Catholic Charities USA Responds to 2008 Census Bureau Poverty Data

Thu Sep 10, 2009 12:40pm EDT

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Sept. 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Rev. Larry Snyder,
president of Catholic Charities USA and a member of President Obama's Council
of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, commenting on new statistics
released today by the U.S. Census Bureau, noted that while the increase in
2008 poverty levels is troubling it doesn't even begin to tell the whole
story.  

(Logo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081008/CCUSALOGO )

"The poverty statistics released today by the Census Bureau reveal the number
of people who were living in poverty at the end of 2008, a substantial
increase over 2007," Fr. Snyder said.  "Yet it does not tell us about the many
millions who have joined their ranks in the eight months of 2009 since the
toll of the economic crisis has been translated into the loss of jobs and
health coverage." 

"Catholic Charities has always been familiar with the faces of the poor
because we serve them every day -- fathers or mothers who lost their jobs or
have had their hours cut back; children who need a healthy meal, senior
citizens who can't pay the heating bill -- but this downturn in the economy is
stretching thin the resources of Catholic Charities agencies across the
country to meet the growing needs of our most vulnerable citizens," he added. 

"As an example, in Pittsburgh, Catholic Charities' free health care center is
adding about 100 patients per month. According to Diane Redington, the
clinic's administrator, the kind of people they are seeing tend to be new
people who were not uninsured before. It's scary for them; they're not used to
asking for help. There are also more than 800 people on a waiting list for the
center's dental program," Fr. Snyder shared.   

"In Delaware, the executive director of Catholic Charities reports that they
continue to receive thousands of requests for assistance from individuals and
families throughout Delaware and Maryland's Eastern Shore. And as we are
seeing in almost all of our agencies around the country, many who are asking
for help have never been in this position before," he continued. 

"Families are hurting. Children are hurting. Senior citizens and those who
worked hard all of their lives are hurting," Fr. Snyder reported.  "We find
this unacceptable in a country as blessed and rich as the USA."  

"If we ever hope to seriously reduce poverty in America, we must work harder
to reduce the social and economic risks that result in people falling into
poverty -- particularly now as we have the opportunity to rebuild our nation's
economy," he said.  "Reducing poverty must be a priority on the national
agenda.  Let us remember that behind each census number there is a person, a
neighbor who needs help.  It is time for us to put 'Love Thy Neighbor' into
practice."  

In 2007 Catholic Charities USA launched its Campaign to Reduce Poverty in
America, which aims to cut the poverty rate in half by 2020 by working with
government and business leaders to design policies and programs that lift
individuals and families out of poverty and ensure that they are in a better
position to prosper in their lives.

Catholic Charities USA's members -- more than 1,700 local Catholic Charities
agencies and institutions nationwide -- provide help and create hope for 8.5
million people a year regardless of religious, social, or economic
backgrounds. For almost 300 years, Catholic Charities agencies have worked to
reduce poverty by providing a myriad of vital services in their communities,
ranging from health care and job training to food and housing. In 2010,
Catholic Charities USA celebrates its centennial anniversary. For more
information, visit www.CatholicCharitiesUSA.org.


SOURCE  Catholic Charities USA

Roger Conner, Sr. Director of Communications of Catholic Charities USA,
+1-703-236-6218, rconner@catholiccharitiesusa.org
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